Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) or Fetal Growth Restriction refers to a baby not developing well in his mother’s womb. It is usually defined by fetal weight that is lower than the 10th percentile for a specific gestational age.
There are two types of IUGR:
- Primary or symmetric – all of the organs of the fetus developing in the womb are too small
- Secondary or asymmetric – the development of the brain and head of the infant is normal; however, the abdomen is too small.
Asymmetric IUGR is more common. Symmetric IUGR is usually connected with adverse neurological outcomes. A 2003 paper in the Journal of Nutrition noted that 6.9 to 11.2% of live births in the United States result in IUGR.
Why is the Baby’s Weight Important at this Stage?
The birth weight serves as the best predictor of your baby’s survival and overall health. Those with low birth weight might encounter problems near the time of delivery. Other issues might arise, such as:
- Difficulty to regulate and maintain body temperature
- Difficulty in fighting off an infection
- Lower oxygen levels and blood sugar at birth
- Low Apgar score – this indicates that your baby requires special care such as assistance with their breathing
What Causes IUGR?
Several factors can increase the risk of IUGR. These include issues with the umbilical cord or placenta. There may be limited blood flow in the umbilical cord, or the placenta is not attached well. The issue may also be found both in the mother and in the fetus.
Problems in the mother that can lead to IUGR include:
- Chronic kidney or lung conditions
- Very low weight
- Alcohol or drug use
- Hypertension or other cardiovascular diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
Problems in the baby that can lead to IUGR include:
- Being part of a twin or triplets
- Birth defects
- Issues with chromosomes or genes
Ironically, carrying small is not considered as a symptom of IUGR. In fact, there are hardly any evident signs that the baby is not growing adequately.
Doctors utilize different methods in estimating the size of your baby during pregnancy. One of the most common ways is to check the distance of the mother’s fundus (top of the uterus) to the pubic bone. On the 20th week of pregnancy onwards, the measurement in centimeters should align with the gestational age.
The other assessments that can be done are as follows:
- Ultrasound – performed every 3 to 4 weeks to check if the baby is growing as expected. The doctor will check your baby’s internal organs. He will also measure the amount of fluid surrounding your baby.
- Non-stress test – this can be done in a doctor’s clinic or hospital. It will measure how fast your baby’s heartbeat is. A healthy baby’s heartbeat is expected to go faster as he moves around.
If any of the tests are not normal, your doctor will decide if there is a need for other tests. He may also decide to induce labor.
IUGR can still happen even if the mother is perfectly healthy. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to lower the risk of IUGR.
- Strictly follow all of your prenatal check-ups. Identifying potential issues immediately will allow the doctor to treat them early.
- Monitor your baby’s movements. If you feel there are changes in your baby’s movements, like not moving often or no movement at all, call your doctor ASAP.
- Check your medicines for any side effects it will have on your baby.
- Watch what you eat. Eat healthy foods and get the right number of calories to make sure that your baby is well nourished.
- Get adequate rest. You need to have at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Resting will make you feel better and help your baby grow. Having at least 1 hour of rest in the afternoon will also be beneficial for you.
- Get rid of any vices, such as drinking, drugs, or smoking.
Consult a Michigan Birth Injury Lawyer for Your Child Born with IUGR
IUGR puts your child at risk for complications. If despite all preventions done the problem still occurs, your doctor might be at fault. Closely monitoring the development of your baby is essential. You may be able to ask for monetary compensation if your doctor fails to do so.
The birth injury lawyers at The Clark Law Office will help you through this difficult time. We will fight your legal battles while you focus on your child. Contact us today.